February 13, 2014  

 The Department of Agriculture RFO 5 Regulatory Division, in cooperation with the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) sponsored two batches of seminar on Animal Welfare and the Use of Laboratory Animals in Research and Scientific Procedures. The first batch was held at Villa Caceres Hotel in Naga City on February 12, 2014 attended by Animal Welfare Officers, researchers and  veterinarians of  LGUs, state colleges and universities, and owners of animal facilities in Camarines Sur and Cam. Norte; researchers/vets of DA and BFAR. While the second batch for the participants coming from the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate and Catanduanes was held on February 13, 2013 at Casa Basilisa in Guinobatan, Albay.

Dr. Edgar R. Madrid, DA Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations said this is the first of its kind in the Bicol region. He added that the standard procedures and guidelines on animal welfare have been laid out since 1998 through Republic Act 8485 or the Animal Welfare Act of 1998. The seminar, according to Madrid aims to  capacitate the participants  with the different procedures in implementing animal welfare program, and  to update  them on innovative strategies in animal welfare.
 Veterinarians from the Philippine Association for Laboratory Animal Sciences (PALAS) and BAI served as resource speakers. Dr. Ma. Gracia Flores, OIC BAI-AWD discussed the issues and concerns in animal welfare in the country, and the rules in conducting scientific procedures using animals. DA-AO No. 40 section 3.1 states that “Any private or government entity (i.e., person, partnership, organization, establishment, firm, cooperative, corporation, association including medical, dental, allied, research, academic and/or scientific institutions) must secure from the BAI, Department of Agriculture, Authorization to conduct scientific procedures using animals.” Likewise, DA –AO No. 8 series of 1999 mandates that animal farms that have the following minimum number of animals need to be registered with BAI-DA: large ruminants (cattle, carabao) – minimum 20 heads; small ruminants (goats, sheep) – 50 heads; hogs (breeders or fatteners) –20 sows or 200 heads;  poultry (broilers or layers) – 10,000 birds; dogs / cats – 20 heads; and gamecocks – 1,000 birds. Certificate of registration must be renewed every 3 years. Non-compliance is punishable by 6 months to 2 years imprisonment and fine of P1,000 to P5,000. 

Another speaker was Dr. Hercules Baldos, owner of Simian Conservation Breeding and Research Center, Inc., the largest monkey farm (34 hectares) in the country engage in breeding and export of monkeys to European countries, Japan and the United States for bio-medical research. He discussed the various laboratory animals used in research, as well care and handling of monkeys. He said that laboratory animals should be treated with utmost respect because these animals help humans attain advances in medical and environmental sciences.

 Dr. Luida Cruz, veterinarian of UNILAB demonstrated handling procedures of laboratory animals. While Dr. Mariano Jovellanos, retired veterinarian of BAI and former President of PALAS discussed the functions of Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and handling of rabbits and guinea pigs.

Dr. Renato Almonte, chief of DA Regulatory Division in closing said that as the DA is mandated to implement RA 8485, he is soliciting  the commitment and support from the   LGUs, academe and owners of private animal facilities  in the promotion of animal welfare in the region.  (Lovella P. Guarin)